Ratings Roundup: NBC Scores Big With Belmont, Stanley Cup Final; ABC’s NBA Finals Highest Ever Through Two Games

An average of 22 million viewers tuned in on NBC from 6:45-7 p.m. ET as American Pharoah won the Belmont Stakes to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. The full race portion of the telecast (6:15-7:15 p.m. ET) averaged 18.6 million viewers – ranking as the third most-watched Belmont Stakes on record (People Meter history dates to 1988) and marking the first time on record that the Belmont has averaged at least 18.5 million viewers in consecutive years (20.5 million in ’14). The 2015 Belmont Stakes posted an 11.2/26 fast national rating – also third-best in People Meter history for a Belmont. The 2015 Belmont Stakes posted the largest viewership for a Saturday afternoon sporting event since NBC’s telecast of the Ravens-Patriots AFC Divisional Playoff on Jan. 10 (34.0 million viewers).

Post-Belmont coverage from 7-7:15pm ET, which featured the special Triple Crown ceremony, delivered a 10.9/25 rating and 18.3 million viewers – up a respective 8% and 2% from last year’s post-race quarter hour.

The New York market, the home of the Belmont Stakes, registered a 16.6 rating/36 share – up 5% from last year’s Belmont (15.8/37) and ranking as the second-highest Belmont in the market behind only Smarty Jones’ Triple Crown attempt in 2004 (20.5/38).

The replay of the Belmont Stakes, with Larry Collmus’ race call, plus additional Belmont video coverage was viewed 2.5 million times across the platforms of NBC Sports Digital…

Stanley Cup Final Scores Big for NBC
NBCSN’s presentation of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final (a 3-2 Lightning win over the Blackhawks) averaged 3.896 million viewers, making it the third-most watched Stanley Cup Final game ever on NBCSN. Viewership of last night’s Game 3 (8:03-11:06 p.m. ET), in which the Lightning came from behind to win with a pair of third-period goals, was up 35% compared to Game 3 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final between the Kings and Rangers (2.893 million), which the Kings won by a score of 3-0. The only Stanley Cup Final games on NBCSN to surpass last night’s viewership are Games 2 and 3 of the 2013 Final featuring the Blackhawks and Bruins. The game peaked in the final full quarter-hour at 5.262 million viewers from 10:45-11 p.m. ET.

Both Chicago and Tampa Bay drew their highest local ratings ever for a game featuring their respective teams on NBCSN. Chicago delivered a 24.0 rating, up 49% vs. the average rating in Chicago on NBCSN during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final (16.1). Tampa produced a 13.2 rating, surpassing its 11.9 rating from Game 7 of this year’s Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers…

Following the Belmont Stakes, Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on NBC averaged 6.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched Game 2 on record (data available since 1994) and the most-watched non-deciding Stanley Cup Final game on record. The telecast surpassed last year’s Game 2 (Kings-Rangers) viewership, which also followed Belmont Stakes coverage and was decided in double overtime (6.4 million), by 3%. Viewership for the game peaked in the final full quarter-hour (9:45-10 p.m. ET), with more than 7.2 million viewers. The 7:15-7:30 p.m. ET lead-in quarter-hour, which immediately followed Belmont Stakes coverage, averaged nearly 10.7 million viewers. The game delivered a 3.9 HH rating.

Chicago delivered a 22.6 rating, followed by Tampa Bay’s 15.1 local market rating, which stands the second-highest rating in Tampa for a Lightning game on any NBC network, trailing only Game 1 last Wednesday night on NBC (17.9)…

…Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final produced a 3.34 HH rating and averaged 5.547 million viewers, making it the most-watched Game 1 that did not require overtime in 18 years and NBC’s second-most watched Stanley Cup Final Game 1 ever. Viewership (8:10-11 p.m. ET) was up 16% compared to last year’s Rangers-Kings Game 1 (4.785 million), which the Kings won by a score of 3-2 in overtime. The only Game 1 on NBC to surpass last night’s viewership was the triple-overtime thriller between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, which averaged 6.315 million viewers. The game peaked at 6.433 million viewers from 10:30-10:45 p.m. ET….

NBA Final at All-Time High Through Two Games
…The 2015 NBA Finals is the most-watched (18,321,000 viewers P2+) and highest-rated (10.6 U.S. household) ever on ABC through the first two games, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals.

Sunday night’s Game 2 delivered 18,795,000 viewers, which was the most-watched NBA Finals Game 2 ever on ABC. It peaked with 24.4 million viewers at 11 p.m. ET. Game 2 was up 26% from 14,914,000 viewers for Miami-San Antonio last season. Additionally, Game 2 delivered a 10.5 U.S. household rating, which is up 19% from an 8.8 last year and ranks as the highest-rated NBA Finals Game 2 on ABC in over a decade.

NBA Finals Game 2 on WatchESPN generated a record 704,000 unique viewers and an average minute audience of 173,900, which is the second-largest audience for an NBA game ever on the platform (2013 NBA Finals Game 7 was the largest)…

Champions League Final Second Best Ever on Fox

FOX’s English-language coverage of the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday posted a 1.3 household rating with 2.2 million viewers , which ranks as the second highest-rated and second most-watched Champions League Final ever, trailing only the 2011 edition which featured Barcelona and Manchester United (1.4, 2.6 million). The match rating is +18% over last year (1.1), and +16% in audience (1.9 million). UEFA Champions League telecasts this season on FOX Sports 1 averaged 355,000 viewers, +40% compared to last season (253,000).

FOX Deportes’ Spanish-language coverage delivered 1.452 million viewers, and like FOX, the match was the second most-watched in the network’s history behind the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final (1.571 million). Saturday’s telecasts combined to average 3.65 million viewers and peaked from 4:30-4:47 PM ET with 4.420 million. The match was the most-watched Spanish cable sports program for 2015 to-date and ranked among the top five most-watched soccer matches all-time on Spanish language cable. The Fox Deportes audience was +19% compared to last year’s final and peaked in the last half hour (4:30-4:47 PM ET) with 1.920 million viewers.

The UEFA Champions League Final was also the most social telecast of the day.  According to Nielsen Social Guide, the match telecasts combined to generate 1.130 million total tweets, well ahead of next closest program, the 147th Belmont Stakes which saw American Pharoah win thoroughbred racing’s first Triple Crown since 1978 (503,000 total Tweets).

French Open Overnights
… French Open coverage featuring the Stan Wawrinka/Novak Djokovic men’s final earned a 1.9 overnight rating on NBC Sunday morning, down 10% from Nadal/Djokovic last year (2.1) but up 12% from Nadal/David Ferrer in 2013 (1.7). The 1.9 is for the full telecast window (9 AM-3 PM ET), not for the match itself (9 AM-12:30 PM). Overnights for the match window were not immediately available. (SportsMediaWatch)

Serena Williams’ three-set French Open victory against Lucie Safarova – marking Williams 20th career Grand Slam singles crown – registered a 1.88 metered market rating on NBC, up 21% from last year’s women’s final…

Champions League Final, Women’s World Cup Up on Fox, CTV/TSN
…Fox, FS1 and FS2 averaged a 0.6 overnight rating for the first four games of the Women’s World Cup this weekend, up 50% from a 0.4 for the comparable four games on ESPN and ESPN2 during the ’11 event.

… A record number of Canadians watched Christine Sinclair lead Canada to a 1-0 victory in the opening match of the FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CANADA 2015.  Preliminary overnight data from Numeris confirms that 1.8 million viewers watched the game on CTV, TSN, and RDS, making it the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup match ever. Overall, 5.6 million unique Canadian viewers tuned in for some or all of the Canada-China PR match, which took place in front of a record crowd in Edmonton. Audience levels peaked at 2.6 million viewers as captain Christine Sinclair stepped up for Canada and calmly slotted home a penalty in added time…

Women’s College World Series Most Viewed Ever
… The 2015 Women’s College World Series (ESPN’s 15th year televising the entire event) was the most-viewed Women’s College World Series on record, averaging 1,196,000 viewers (15 games) from May 28 – June 3. Furthermore, No. 1 Florida vs. No. 3 Michigan’s best-of-three WCWS Championship Finals – which Florida won 2 games to 1 — averaged 1,912,000 viewers (June 1-3), the most-viewed WCWS Championship Finals ever. Additionally, 2015 Women’s College World Series provided four of the top 10 most-watched games in the event’s history (records since 1990).

ESPN’s entire presentation of the 2015 Women’s College World Series bracket round (May 28-May 31) averaged 1,055,000 viewers (12 games), the second most-viewed WCWS bracket round on ESPN networks topped only by the 2011 WCWS bracket round (1,114,000 average viewers). Detroit led all local markets with a 4.0 rating, followed by Birmingham (3.9), Oklahoma City (3.5), Knoxville (3.4), Jacksonville (3.0), Orlando (2.8), Tampa, Dayton & Nashville (2.3) and Greenville (2.0)

The 2015 WCWS Championship Finals  average minute audience was up 168% and average game unique viewers up +124%, respectively, on WatchESPN compared to last season’s WCWS Championship Finals. Additionally, the entire WCWS average audience was up 209% and total minutes up 200%, respectively, compared to 2014 WCWS.

ESPN’s record-setting 2015 Women’s College World Series follows its most comprehensive college softball regular season on the ESPN networks.  With 44 games televised across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU, viewership increased 29% compared to a similar television slate in 2014…

Weekend Overnights Roundup
…Premier Boxing Champions on NBC (3-4:30pm ET), featuring Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero’s split decision win over Aron Martinez posted a .95 overnight – up 12% from NBC’s prior PBC on NBC afternoon telecast on May 23…

…Scott Dixon’s Indy Car victory in the Firestone 600 on NBCSN last night drew a .37 metered market rating – up 6% from last year’s Texas race…

…NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Pocono earned a 2.3 overnight rating on Fox Sports 1 Sunday afternoon, down 18% from last year (2.8) and down 21% from 2013 (2.9), both of which aired on TNT. (SMW)…

…Final round coverage of the PGA Tour Memorial Tournament earned a 2.7 overnight rating on CBS Sunday afternoon, up 13% from last year (2.4), up 23% from 2013 (2.2), and the highest for the event since Tiger Woods’ win in 2012 (3.8). Keep in mind Woods finished dead last this year. (SMW)